August is Black Philanthropy Month! We asked leaders in the Black community how they came to be philanthropists.
Here’s what Gwen Webber-McLeod had to say:
How did you come to be charitable? Were there influences in your life that got you started? Being philanthropic is a core value in the Webber family. My parents are very afro-centric and taught the Webber girls about the tradition of philanthropy in the context of Black history. We were raised to believe that it is our historical obligation to give of our time and money to causes that better our people and community. Philanthropy is a tradition passed from one generation to the next in the Webber family.
What do you want Central New York to look like in the future? How can philanthropy be a part of that change? I want Central New York to be a model for strategically overcoming the economic impact poverty and inequity has on every aspect of a community. I am the President/CEO of a company that specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion strategy development. In my work I see strategic investments in these issues as game changing in communities. Much of this investment is from government dollars. I believe the addition of philanthropic dollars adds value to the overall impact in addressing poverty and inequity. It is for this reason I chose to make my legacy gift to the Black Excellence and Equity Fund.
What do you feel are the greatest needs in our community right now? I mentioned the impact of poverty and inequity in my previous response. However, let me dig a little deeper on these issues. I am specifically concerned about the impact of poverty and inequity on the mental and physical well-being of African American children. We are quick to state we believe children are the future. Based on current data I am unsure if we believe African American children are included in this future or even considered a vital community asset. If we believed African American children were a vital community asset we would invest in the well-being of African American children with the same rigor and vigor we do all other defined vital community assets. In short, as leaders, philanthropists, we need to do better by this specific population of children.
Is there a quote that sums up or has shaped how you live your life? This quote is often attributed to Congressman John Lewis. “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” It is a daily reminder that I am historically obligated to my ancestors, parents and the Black community to be a very specific type of Black leader. I am obligated to be a leader and philanthropist who leverages every resource she has to ensure Black people have access and the opportunity to become all they desire to be.